The federal government is once again showing its disdain for the medical marijuana industry. This time federal prosecutors are threatening property owners with legal action if they don’t close down the dispensaries owned by their tenants. The letters went out last week and give the landowners 45 days to stop the sale of marijuana on their properties.
The federal government maintains that these locations are operating in violation of federal law. Indeed they are, dealing in a substance that is still classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law. (Schedule I drugs are the most addictive and also include heroin.)
California voters demanded medical marijuana legislation and while a patient using marijuana in California is within the state laws, the dispensary lies in a grey area (in regards to state law), and both are illegal under federal laws, creating a line in the sand between federal enforcement and California law.
The letters advised property owners that the dispensaries were in violation of federal law. “Your prompt attention to this matter is strongly advised. Please take the necessary steps to discontinue the sale and/or distribution of marijuana at the above-referenced location within 45 days of this letter.” The letter did not say what the consequences of failing to obey would be but it would, more than likely, involve prosecution.
Critics of the dispensaries say that they are targeting youth and recreational users rather than the ill patients the medical marijuana laws were designed to help. Supporters, on the other hand, say that is not so and that the medical marijuana industry has done far more to help California than to hurt it.
“Apparently the federal government would rather destroy an industry that’s employing tens of thousands of people and creating hundreds of millions of dollars in legal tax revenues to save face on a bankrupt policy that the American people don’t even support—namely denying the medical value of marijuana,” said California NORML director Dale Gieringer.
Nationwide, activists are pushing for the federal government to reclassify marijuana from the Schedule I designation. It’s this classification that drives the feds to investigate and enforce in spite of what the voters want.
The medical marijuana laws in California, and elsewhere, allow patients to grow their own pot and many are likely to revert to this or buying it on the black market if all of the dispensaries shut down. However, whether a drug dealer sells to a patient or a friend, that sale is still punishable under either federal or state law.
If you are facing drug charges, even those related to medical marijuana, contact one of our attorneys today to discuss your case.